"You can develop an ulcer from worrying too much."
Since the 1980s, we've known that the most common cause of a peptic ulcer is actually an infection of H. pylori bacteria. So why do so many of us still associate ulcers with stress? Here's the deal: Excessive use of OTC painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen—the stress-busters we rely on when we're suffering from tension headaches, tight shoulders or a put-upon, aching back—can also cause ulcers or make them worse, explains Patricia Raymond, MD, a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. These NSAIDs can break down the mucous membranes that line the stomach, allowing gastrointestinal acid to splash up and cause burning pain. Raymond adds that alcohol—another popular de-stressing remedy—can exacerbate an existing problem.